Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Timeline History: Wisconsin Department Workforce Development (DWD)

Public announcement of the new department - July 1, 1996

The Department of Workforce Development

A new state agency started work bright and early on Monday, July 1: the Department of Workforce Development. Our job is to help people find success in employment.

Good work if you can get it. And in Wisconsin, you can.

The Department of Workforce Development is a key player in maintaining a world class workforce that will keep Wisconsin one of the nation's strongest economies.

We help workers land that all-important first job or take that next step up the ladder. We offer career counseling, training opportunities (including school-to work and adult apprenticeships). If there are barriers to employment, whether physical disabilities or welfare dependency, we'll help you overcome them.

We help employers keep Wisconsin's economy strong by matching them with workers and strategies to retain them. We provide sound labor market information to guide wise decision-making.

We're the job shop charged with implementing "Wisconsin Works," the nation's most ambitious welfare reform program. W-2, scheduled to start in September 1997, replaces dependency on AFDC with the pride and self-sufficiency of a job.

The DWD is the answer to taxpayers' demand for streamlined government.

Two years ago, the Legislative Audit Bureau and the SAVE Commission found that a myriad of employment programs existed, many of them competing or uncoordinated. For instance, 20 of the 24 groups targeted for employment and training services were served by two or more programs; 13 were served by four or more programs! That was confusing and frustrating for employers and job seekers.

Each agency and program had its own administrative structure and delivery systems, causing duplication and inefficiency. The proliferation of programs and services meant that many customers did not receive the services they were looking for, or were forced to hunt and peck for what they needed.

Gov. Tommy Thompson is replacing that bureaucratic mish-mash with a single "Partnership for Full Employment," to be operated by DWD in cooperation with employers and local units of government through a network of 62 one-stop job centers from Kenosha to Superior.

It is one coordinated, comprehensive system providing the right stuff for every need, for people with disabilities, welfare recipients, veteran workers displaced by foreign competition, first-time job applicants or those trading up for that better situation.

Job seekers and employers who need little other help can find each other on the JobNet, an easy-to-use, automated touch-screen job matching system now available in 46 locations and available over the Internet. (Editor's note: JobNet is now known as "Job Center of Wisconsin" and is available at http://jobcenterofwisconsin.com).

Help with resume writing, interviewing, job search clinics, and job clubs - even child care and health care - will be available to those who need it. Job fairs, workshops on how to accommodate workers with disabilities, job coaching and mentoring, strategies on finding worker transportation will help employers create more jobs.

Our customers helped us design this cost-effective system - 800 of them over the past 1? years, representing 110 businesses, community-based organizations, and advocacy groups - service providers, local government officials, persons with disabilities, AFDC recipients, labor representatives, and employers from 33 cities, counties and tribes, 12 state agencies, 20 University of Wisconsin and Technical College campuses.

The Partnership for Full Employment is the latest of Wisconsin's progressive, worker-oriented innovations. It joins such other key elements of the new Department of Workforce Development as unemployment insurance; workers compensation, equal rights, and wage and hours enforcement.

The new DWD increases services without creating new staff positions. We did it by taking a customer focus, using cutting-edge computer technology, and by re-engineering key elements taken from the old Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and adding essential services from the Department of Health and Social Services, such as vocational rehabilitation and economic support.

That mix is infused with a progressive, "can-do" attitude, like Nancy Rasmussen's. The former welfare recipient from Waupaca County says, "I now have a job waiting for me and hope of better times ahead."

She is joining a community of pride: 2.7 million other Wisconsin men and women who work for a living. She knows what Gov. Thompson has been trying to tell the nation: Work fulfills a basic human need that no welfare check can match.

With Wisconsin's economy booming, there's plenty of room on the career track. The new Department of Workforce Development is working to make it easier for everyone to get on track and get ahead. It's Wisconsin's future at work!

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) replaced DILHR in a major departmental reorganization.

The Division of Safety and Buildings moved to the new Department of Commerce.

The divisions of Economic Support and Vocational Rehabilitation became part of DWD (moving from the Department of Health and Social Services).

Pay for Performance required up-front job search and emphasized AFDC as a short-term source of income.

Wisconsin's welfare reform program Wisconsin Works (W-2) was signed into law.

Unemployment Insurance went statewide with the Telephone Initial Claims system (TICS). This completed the major initiative to close all local unemployment offices and eliminate long lines at those offices.

JobNet workstations especially designed for the disabled were made available.

U.S. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunities Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) of 1996:

Created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Block Grant program to replace AFDC.

Mandated the National Directory of New Hires as a national resource to assist States in locating child support obligors working in other states and improve child support collection efforts.

KIDS, the child support computer system, was implemented statewide.

The Uninsured Employers Fund started paying claims on July 1, 1996. The UEF pays worker's compensation benefits on valid worker's compensation claims filed by employees who are injured while working for illegally uninsured Wisconsin employers.


Computerworld Award
Computerworld Award

DWD was awarded the prestigious 1996 Computerworld Smithsonian Award for excellence in technological innovations. The innovations were the creation of the Unemployment Insurance Telephonic Initial Claims System (TICS) and the JobNet automated placement system.

More DWD History...  

1980-1999 | 2000-2010 | 2011-Present

Back to Top

Back to Main DWD History Page

All images property Department of Workforce Development

Email DWD DWD Instragram DWD on Twitter DWD on Facebook DWD on YouTube DWD on LinkedIn DWD RSS Feed

A proud partner of the network